Exclusive HAMMERFALL interview with Joacim Cans

Hammerfall was the main act in this year’s Dokk’em Open Air Festival, a fact that is hardly surprising. With 18 years of experience under their belt,  Hammerfall has proved to be one of the leading voices in the Power Metal genre, having authored symbolic songs such as “Let the Hammer Fall”, “Where the Dragon Lies Bleeding” and “Hearts on Fire”.

Today, in the middle of a (typical) rainy day in the Netherlands, the guys from Dutch Distortion and I we are escorted to the boutique hotel where the band is staying. The contrast is, of course, remarkable. The band, with black clothes and long hair (though not sporting the complete metal attire they wear on stage) sits in a small table by the window, surrounded by old couples having cups of tea and eating biscuits. Our arrival also get some odd looks; even though we’re dressed in very normal (yet black) clothes, the long hair of one my colleagues, together with the chains that hold our wallets, still awakens the curiosity of some.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Joacim Cans, the lead singer of this legendary band, to get a first-person account about the new album, the changes in the band’s style, as well as his love for food:

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Why should your fans buy “Infected”?
Well, if you’re a fan, you’ll probably buy it anyway!
But, well, it’s different from our previous work. We’ve change the production style, with  “less effects” than before. This obviously puts a bit more pressure on me, since I can no longer “hide” behind the effects, and have to give my best when I sing.
Finally, I think, of course, that it’s a great album!

Do you think, as some bands have said, that “Hammerfall has changed?
Well, of course we’ve changed! Some people want bands to keep being the same forever, and then they’ll complain that they sound the same. I think that the problem is that there’s this desire among some metal fans to keep the genre as an underground subculture, but, guess what? it’s too late. Nowadays every major festival has at least one heavy metal number, and metal festivals gather hundreds of thousands of people every year.
This doesn’t mean that we’re deliberately trying to sound “commercial”, but simply that our music can reach a larger audience.

The band has covered many bands, and even released a cover album in 2008, Masterpieces. In this case, you covered Pokolgép’s “Send me a Sign”. Why did you choose this song?
Well, it’s obviously a great song! The biggest problem for us was that the original is in Hungarian, so we had to translate it. First we translated the lyrics to swedish, and from that we developed a version in English. We will release it as a single, and it will include a version where I sang the song in Hungarian.

Do you even speak Hungarian?
No… Which is why I hope nobody feels insulted if I make a mistake.

In 2004 you released your first (and so far only) solo album, Beyond the Gates. It’s definitely, and this is not an attempt to kiss your ass, one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Are you planning to release a follow-up?
No, at least not for now. Back then I felt that I needed a venue through which I could express myself musically in a way that I couldn’t do it in Hammerfall. Beyond the Gates had a darker style of metal that simply didn’t fit with the band.
Right now, however, Hammerfall is all I need.

What are your favorite Hammerfall songs?
Well,  I can’t really pick one. I can tell you what songs I love to play live, since then they sound much better than in the studio. Let the Hammer Fall” is such a song. We close the sets with this song because, well, it’s simply great to get all this energy from the crowd. From the new album, “Bang your Head” will probably become a mandatory piece in our concerts from now on.

Are you collaborating or working in any other projects?
Well, I’m working in different Swedish musical TV shows (like Körgslaget back in 2008) so that keeps me occupied. Additionally I have a restaurant in Sweden.

A restaurant?!
Yes; cooking is a passion of mine, so a friend and I opened a restaurant. It’s in this beautiful building with a big ball room, where big “high class” parties where held. Of course, I can’t always be there, since I’m usually on tour.

You’ve played in South America before, are you planning to go back?
Definitely. Not this year, but we’ll probably go there next year.

Any final words for your fans?
Get the album, don’t judge it by its cover, and listen to it. You will see immediately that it is Hammerfall. I’m sure you’ll like it.

Thank you for the interview!
It has been a pleasure, enjoy the show!*

*We definitely did.